Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend?
More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.
“Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.”
When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed...
Oh my, oh my!! I've just finished reading this book and am still reeling from the whirlpool of emotions I've been through. The story sucked me in from the very beginning and kept me pinned to my kindle till the end.
I saw this book's cover on a fellow blogger's facebook page and was immediately attracted to the title. Reading the blurb I was intrigued and wanted to read it asap.
How much do we really know those around us, the people closest to us? Faces never reveal the secrets hidden within.
1976. Portobello's community is shocked when thirteen-year-old Shona McIver is found raped and murdered. A local weirdo is convicted and imprisoned for life shortly after.
Modern day. New DNA testing uncovers the greatest miscarriage of justice in Scotland's penal system. An innocent man has been imprisoned for almost 40 years and is released.
But this means that someone got away with murder. The killer could still be at large. The case is re-opened.
"...he could see his sister again in his mind's eye; so bright, so beautiful and so wild."
Through the years, away in South Africa, Shona's older brother Tom found it less painful to pretend he's an only child and her best friend Sarah has always been haunted by Shona in her dreams. That terrible night has changed all their lives forever.
Suddenly Shona is back in the headlines and Tom and Sarah, now adults have found each other again after many, many years. By the end, old wounds are reopened, painful memories are raked up, secrets uncovered, revelations made and lives turned upside down. There will also be another death.
Who killed little Shona all those years ago? And why?
Well, this book is so well-written that as I was reading, pages just flew by. I've never been to Portobello, but through the author's vivid descriptions of the place it was as if I was there. I could clearly imagine the wide sweep of the bay, the receding tide or the pedestrian walkway edged by the seafront buildings. All characters are also very-well described making you feel as if you've known these people for a lifetime. It was as if I was there, just another character watching what's happening. I could almost feel the pain, the anguish, the suffering, the anger but also the joy, the hope and love experienced by these characters.
With numerous twists and turns, this book kept me on the tips of my toes throughout. The killer's identity is not revealed to us till the very end, but before reaching that point, the author makes us shed our suspicions on numerous characters in turn. In fact there are quite a few individuals who fit the bill.
I couldn't believe that this was just the author's first book. I read on Ms.Baillie's website that this story has been in her mind for thirty years. Now I am just glad she decided to write it as it was a great, enjoyable experience for me. I highly recommend it and hope the author will write many more brilliant books in the future.
With thanks to the author, the publishers and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this book.
About the Author
Alison Baillie was brought up in Yorkshire by Scottish parents. She studied English at St Andrews, before teaching English in Edinburgh, Finland and Switzerland. Now she spends her time reading, writing, travelling and attending crime writing festivals.